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by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A plan to host a polling place at a condo building in Crystal City has been nixed, but elections officials said they are confident of finding a new location before November.

County staff had planned to move the polling station for the Crystal City 006 Precinct to the Crystal Gateway condo building at 1300 Crystal Drive from Crystal Place (1801 Crystal Drive) in time for November’s elections.

But a staff report on various changes to voting locations ahead of the elections said the Crystal Gateway “no longer wishes” to host a polling place. Likewise, the report notes that Crystal Place “no longer wished” to do the same.

Arlingtonians will go to the polls to elect a Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and local members of the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as representatives on the Arlington County Board and School Board.

Gretchen Reinemeyer, the county’s deputy director of elections, said the building “did not provide any information on why they would not like to be a polling place.” Crystal Gateway’s property manager and a spokesman for Equity Apartments, which owns both the Crystal Gateway and Crystal Place, did not return calls requesting comment.

Reinemeyer said staff is “in the process” of finding a new polling place for the precinct, and they are “optimistic that we will have a new location soon.” She said that when looking for new polling places, staff try and find county-owned buildings in the precinct first before assessing other options.

“If there is not a suitable county facility available, we look at other buildings used by the community that have a ground level meeting room such as churches or community rooms in apartment or condo buildings,” she said. “Once we find a location that we think will work, we begin negotiating with the management of the space.”

The County Board will vote on the proposed voting changes at its meeting Saturday (July 15). Also on the table is a change for the Rosslyn Precinct to move its voting place to the 1800 Oak Apartments from the soon-to-be-redeveloped Fire Station 10, and a technical change for the Virginia Highlands Precinct to reflect that votes are cast at the recently reopened Aurora Hills Community Center.

Photo via Google Maps.

by Kalina Newman July 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Replacement of the Carlin Springs Road bridge will be up for discussion at the Arlington County Board’s meeting Saturday.

The Board will consider a construction project that would remove the 65-foot-wide bridge and replace it with a 69-foot-wide structure. The bridge takes N. Carlin Springs Road over N. George Mason Drive near Barrett Elementary School and Lubber Run Park on the border of the Arlington Forest and Bluemont neighborhoods.

In a report on the project, county staff said that while still structurally sound, the bridge was built in 1961 and is the most deteriorated county-owned bridge.

The Rustler Construction company submitted the winning bid on the project, which would combine the bridge replacement with a new sewer line along N. Carlin Springs Road between N. Abingdon Street and N. George Mason Drive. The bridge will also receive the following additions:

  • Wider sidewalks
  • Bike lanes
  • Four vehicular travel lanes
  • A facade arch and decorative railing
  • Enhanced lighting on and under the bridge
  • The street name on the bridge facade

Staff estimates the entire project will cost just over $5.8 million, with another $1.1 million set aside in contingency funds. The project for the bridge will be funded from the county’s capital improvement program, as well as with bonds, grant funding and money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Additional bonds from the project to revamp the Shirlington Road Bridge will be used to make up a funding gap of $775,000, as that is progressing slower than expected, according to the staff report.

The sewer project will also be funded from the capital improvement program, and from funds carried over from another project in the Sanitary Sewer System improvement program that has been put on hold several times.

by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

A D.C. man is facing charges for being in a group that rode dozens of dirt bikes and ATVs through Arlington in April.

The Arlington County Police Department announced the arrest Tuesday afternoon.

Stephon Williams, 24, has been charged with felony eluding, concealing identity while wearing a mask, reckless driving and operating an ATV on the highway. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.

Williams was allegedly part of a group of about 75 riders that on April 9 around 7 p.m. drove on Arlington Blvd, then to U.S. Route 1 south into Alexandria. It was one of two such incidents of the riders descending on the county that weekend; another incident was reported last month.

An Arlington County police officer monitored the group in Courthouse on his in-car camera, and detectives were able to put together a description of a suspect. Williams was arrested in D.C. and waived extradition to the Commonwealth.

More from an Arlington County Police Department press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a suspect for his involvement in an April 9, 2017 incident of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) being operated in Arlington County. Stephon Williams, 24, of Washington D.C. has been charged with felony eluding, concealing identity while wearing a mask, reckless driving, and operating an ATV on the highway. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.

On April 9, 2017 at approximately 7:14 p.m. an officer conducting a traffic stop in the 1200 block of N. Courthouse Road observed a large group of dirt bikes and ATVs traveling westbound on Arlington Boulevard. The officer activated his in-car camera system and monitored the group before they exited Arlington County.

After reviewing evidence from the scene, detectives from Arlington County Police Department’s Auto Theft Unit developed a suspect description. The suspect was arrested in Washington D.C. and waived extradition to the Commonwealth.

Dirt bikes and ATVs pose a danger to pedestrians and other motorists and are illegal to operate on area roadways. If you see or know the identity of someone riding a dirt bike or ATV recklessly in Arlington County, call police at 703-558-2222. In the case of an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com July 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Jay Fisette, the most senior member of the Arlington County Board, has less than six months to go until his retirement. And while it will not happen during his tenure, there’s something Fisette wants for Arlington, eventually: for it to become a city.

In Virginia, local governments are divided into two top-level classifications: counties and independent cities.

Arlington is the fourth-largest county in Virginia by population — after Fairfax, Loudoun and Henrico — but by far the smallest, at only 26 square miles. In fact, Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. (Mathews County, on the Chesapeake Bay, is the second smallest in Virginia, at 86 square miles.)

Fisette says Arlington has more in common with Virginia cities, like neighboring Alexandria and Falls Church, than it does with counties. And, he says, it makes sense that an increasingly urbanized place like Arlington should be governed as a city.

Additionally, many already refer to Arlington as a city, and for population-counting purposes the U.S. Census Bureau includes Arlington in its list of Virginia towns and cities, an exception the Bureau only makes for Arlington and for places in Hawaii, which has no incorporated cities.

A change to city status, however, would require action by Virginia’s state legislature.

“I have come to believe that Arlington County should ultimately become the City of Arlington,” Fisette tells ARLnow.com. “In 1846, we became Alexandria County — because we were much more rural than the City of Alexandria or DC. Then in 1920, we became Arlington County, in order to cause less confusion with our neighbor — the City of Alexandria.”

“Today, we are the geographically smallest, and most densely populated self-governing county in the U.S. and my experience is that we have much more in common with cities than counties,” Fisette continued. “I have not looked into this in a while, however, I know the change to a city would require General Assembly action. While I am not clear what they are, there may be some further changes that would be automatic with a city designation.”

In 2010, an attempt to change Arlington’s form of government, to one in which County Board members are elected by districts rather than at-large, failed to gather enough valid petition signatures.

Fisette didn’t reveal any plans to take action on changing Arlington from a county to a city, but did say he hopes it is “considered” by county leaders moving forward.

Fisette discussed the idea last month at the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s annual meeting. At the meeting, he also expressed his belief that the “City” in “Crystal City” should be lopped off and the neighborhood renamed simply “Crystal.”

by ARLnow.com July 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Traffic is backing up on I-395 after a crash in the southbound lanes near King Street.

As of 1:15 p.m., all but one lane was blocked due to the emergency response. Injuries were reported in the crash, but were said to not be serious in nature.

Arlington County Police, Arlington medics and Virginia State Police are on scene.

by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

(Updated 12.55 p.m.) Residents in North Rosslyn have been without water since yesterday (Monday) afternoon after a water main break on N. Scott Street.

Crews from Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services have been making emergency repairs since last night at 1815 N. Scott Street.

A department spokesman said they expect work to be complete and water service restored by 3 p.m. Tuesday, and that the service for 50-100 people has been affected. A traffic detour has been in place in the area, with N. Scott Street closed, including its sidewalks.

The spokesman said a contractor installing a cable drilled through a 16-inch water pipe.

In a post on the North Rosslyn Civic Association’s online forum, local resident Paul Derby said the break came after contractors for Comcast installing fiber in the neighborhood accidentally drilled through the water main.

“Hopefully, Comcast will fully reimburse Arlington County for the cost of these repairs,” Derby wrote. “One wonders how a piece of underground infrastructure as large as this water main could be missed or wrongly interpreted when the utility markings were done.”

Photo No. 1 via Twitter user @lizvanwazer

by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 11, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Ask Eli banner

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’m cheating a bit here and answering my own question this week. I come across so many agents representing buyers and sellers who I don’t recognize that I wanted to know just how many agents have handled a real estate transaction in Arlington over the last couple of years. So Eli, how many real estate agents are there operating in Arlington?

Answer: Like it or not, the residential real estate profession has one of the lowest barriers to entry of any industry. While there are a lot of great agents out there, dedicated to their profession and delivering real value to their clients, it’s easy for just about anybody with a couple of months to study and a few hundred dollars to represent you in a real estate transaction.

That’s why it’s important to ask your agent if they’re full-time or part-time, how much business they do, and about their professional background.

A Lot Of Agents

To answer my question, I pulled data on the last 5,000 transactions (totaling $3.2 billion in just under two years) in Arlington to find out how many agents were involved.

Remember that in each transaction there are usually two agents and for the sake of simplicity, if an agent represented both sides of a deal, they’re credited with two sales in these figures. Here’s a summary of what I found:

  • There were 3,139 total agents who worked on the last 5,000 transactions, with 2,287 different buyers agents and 1,904 different listing agents
  • 178, or 5.7 percent, of those agents closed ten or more of those deals
  • The 2,218 agents who closed one or two deals accounted for over $1.6 billion in sales or about 25 percent of sales volume (the $1.6B has to be divided by twice the $3.2 billion sales volume in Arlington to account for one agent on each side of the deal)
  • The top 1 percent of agents by total transactions accounted for just over $1 billion in sales or about 16 percent of sales volume
  • Only one agent represented over 100 buyers or 100 sellers (and you’ve probably seen her face on buses around the county)
  • Out of the agents who closed five or more deals, 46 of them averaged over $1 million per sale

Some Exceptions

Just because somebody has only done one or two deals in Arlington doesn’t mean they’re not a great agent, in fact, I see a number of solid agents on this list who I know from other markets in the D.C. metropolitan area. There’s also quite a few agents in the industry who transact simply for their own investments.

What Do You Think?

Given this information and the data points above, are you surprised at the number of agents operating in Arlington? Do you think having a low barrier to entry and minimal license maintenance requirements/costs is a good thing for the residential real estate industry or should it be more difficult and more expensive to operate as a licensed agent so that fewer agents are managing Arlington’s real estate market? Discuss!

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at http://www.RealtyDCMetro.com.  

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by Brooke Giles July 11, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The county could gain control of a section of Fairfax Drive under a plan before the Arlington County Board.

The Board will vote Saturday on whether to request that the Virginia Department of Transportation and Commonwealth Transportation Board transfer control of the road between its intersections with N. Glebe Road and N. Barton Street. Both bodies would then have to approve the transfer, but VDOT has already tentatively agreed to the deal.

If Arlington gains control of the section of Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. between Ballston and Courthouse, also known as Route 237, it would limit VDOT’s involvement in construction projects.

Currently, roads under VDOT’s control require extensive review before any construction can be done. Making the portion of the roadway a part of Arlington’s local road system would streamline such reviews and give the county more flexibility to implement multimodal improvements.

“Since many of the County’s projects on Route 237 utilize urban standards that are not typical of VDOT plans, this often requires obtaining design exceptions in order to implement the project,” said a staff report. “This cumbersome design-exception process adds time and expense to each project.”

The report recommends the Board approve the proposal, arguing that added flexibility in managing several streets that run in parallel to Interstate 66, which is being widened under the “Transform 66” project, is worth the extra expense.

The move is expected to cost the county upwards of $60,000 a year, according to a fiscal impact statement.

Unlike many other counties in Virginia, Arlington County staff performs the full range of road maintenance functions on the 1,051 lane miles of road and would accept conveyance and responsibility for the maintenance of the additional 6.61 lane miles constituting this portion of Route 237. Per Section 33.2-366 of the Virginia Code, Arlington County receives a per lane-mile payment each fiscal year for the maintenance of its secondary road system. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 rate, approved by the CTB on June 20, 2017, is $18,515.71 per lane-mile; the rate typically escalates each year. Maintenance responsibilities include landscaping, sidewalk repair, street sweeping, paving, plowing, signage, and pavement markings, which cost the County roughly $28,000 per lane-mile of roadway, based on the County’s most recently reported average maintenance cost per lane-mile.

… This equates to $60,000 – $70,000 in additional net tax support to the County. The precise level of service for this portion of Route 237 and associated costs would be determined during the FY 2019 budget deliberations.

The CTB would likely vote on the transfer in September if it is approved by the County Board.

by ARLnow.com July 11, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

Beyer Calls on Kushner to Resign — In light of his participation in a meeting with a Russian lawyer regarding potentially damaging information about Hillary Clinton, White House advisor Jared Kushner should either resign from his post or be fired, says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). Kushner “should be held to the highest ethical standard,” Beyer said. The Congressman has also introduced an amendment to a bill to block the Trump administration from setting up a joint “cyber security unit” with Russia. [Rep. Don BeyerRep. Don Beyer]

Most Dangerous Intersections in Arlington — The three most dangerous intersections in Arlington, by 2016 crash data, are: Washington Blvd and S. Walter Reed Drive (22 crashes), Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street (28 crashes), and Route 50 and Washington Blvd (37 crashes). [Arlington Magazine]

FAA Facility Issue Causes Delays — Construction-related fumes prompted the evacuation of a Federal Aviation Administration building in Leesburg last night and caused flights to be delayed at all three major Washington area airports for several hours. [WTOP, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

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